India has resumed talks on the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement with Sri Lanka after a gap of five years. The 12th round of negotiations between the two countries took place on Tuesday and Wednesday in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The talks, which began in 2016, were halted in 2018.
Over two days, both sides took stock of the previous rounds of negotiations and reviewed the progress on implementation, according to a release from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The two countries have decided to drop nine issues, marking them resolved, it said.
“Issues such as the quota on apparel and pepper and the procurement of pharmaceuticals were also discussed, and both sides decided to continue the discussion and explore new options for resolution of the matter,” the release said.
The trade deliberations were held between KJ Weerasinghe, chief negotiator of the Sri Lankan delegation, and Anant Swarup, joint secretary in the Department of Commerce and India’s chief negotiator on the matter.
Discussions on various chapters in this round included those on trade in goods, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, trade in services, customs procedures and trade facilitation, rules of origin, trade remedies, economic and technological cooperation, and dispute settlement.
“On the proposed ETCA, both sides agreed on the need to build on progress made in the past while revisiting their positions wherever possible to reflect new developments. The conclusion of the negotiations is expected to open new opportunities for trade and economic cooperation for both countries,” the release said.
The resumption of trade talks also coincides with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s three-day visit to Sri Lanka.
Sitharaman is expected to deliver the keynote address at the ‘NAAM 200’ organised by the government of Sri Lanka to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Indian-origin Tamilians to Sri Lanka on Thursday in Colombo.
She is also expected to address the India-Sri Lanka Business Summit, jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries, the Indo-Lanka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, on Nov. 2.
During the week, she is expected to meet with Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena. She will also inaugurate SBI branches at Trincomalee and Jaffna on Nov. 2 and 3, respectively.
This will be in addition to trips to places of religious worship in Kandy and Jaffna, Lanka IOC oil tank farms, the Jaffna Cultural Centre, and the Jaffna Public Library. Sitharaman will also be present for the exchange of the Memorandum of Understanding for solar electrification of religious places in Sri Lanka. India will allocate Rs 82.40 crore, out of the government’s grant assistance of Rs 107.5 crore, earmarked for the promotion of Buddhist ties.